Use Governors Island’s Sports Fields During the 2017 Season

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The permit process to use Governors Island’s sports fields is now open! The two natural turf ballfields can be easily configured for Little League baseball and adult softball or for soccer and other field sports. The fields will be open for permitted use during daylight hours every day in 2017 from May 1-October 1.

The ballfields will open on May 1 when the Island opens for the 2017 season. The ballfields are sized for Little League baseball or adult softball. The outfields of these fields can also be used for soccer or other field sports. Fields are open when the Island is open to the public. The Island is open every day from May 1 through October 1. On weekdays, the Island is open 10 AM to 6 PM; on weekends from 10 AM to 7 PM.

Organizations can apply online to use the fields. The permit process will be open until March 1 at which point we will review all of the applications we have received. There is a $26 non-refundable permit fee. As with other public ballfields in New York City, preference will be given to youth groups, schools and leagues from across the City. Permits will be accepted on an ongoing basis, first come, first served.The Trust will let groups know if they have secured field space and the dates and times at which they can use the fields. Fields are free of charge for all youth and school groups. There is a fee of $50 an hour for adult leagues.

We look forward to welcoming groups from around the City to play ball while enjoying incredible views of the Harbor and Statue of Liberty.

Thank You To Ronay Menschel

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After more than a decade of extraordinary service, Ronay Menschel is stepping down as Chair of the Trust for Governors Island. Ronay has offered her steadfast leadership in the Island's transformation from a forgotten former military base to the beloved resource it is today since serving on the Board of the Governors Island Preservation and Education Corporation, formed in 2003. In 2010 she was appointed by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg as the first Chair of the Trust for Governors Island.

Throughout her service to Governors Island, Ronay has made a significant mark in expanding access to the arts in New York City. From numerous on-Island public art installations, including Cabin, Rachel Whiteread's first permanent site specific sculpture in the US, to spearheading the activation of the Island through free public programs from New York City arts and cultural organizations, Ronay's commitment to the arts has shaped the spirit of Governors Island as a hub for creativity. Her leadership also delivered the Island's spectacular new park spaces, giving New Yorkers a new and unforgettable relationship with the Harbor, Statue of Liberty and City skyline.

At the Trust's January meeting of it's Board of Directors, Ronay was presented with a Proclamation from Mayor Bill de Blasio commemorating her everlasting contributions to the City of New York. It reads:

Whereas: Our city has always been a place where anyone with the vision and determination to improve the five boroughs has the chance to make their mark. So many New Yorkers have been inspired to serve their fellow residents and create lasting, positive change that sets us on the path to a brighter future. Dedicating her career to strengthening our communities and improving the quality of life throughout our city, Ronay Menschel stands out as one of these remarkable leaders. Today, together with the members of the Trust for Governors Island, I join in celebrating all that she has achieved as she steps down from her position as Chairman.

Whereas: Throughout the course of her distinguished career, Ronay has played many roles and accomplished many feats. As a Deputy Mayor in the Koch Administration and as a board member of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, she demonstrated great dedication to improving quality of life throughout the five boroughs. At the MTA she founded what is now MTA Arts & Design, championing public art and our City’s creative spirit. Ronay currently is the Chairman of Phipps Houses that has made an indelible mark on the communities it serves through affordable housing initiatives. In 2010, her mission to improve our city continued when she was appointed Chairman of the Trust for Governors Island, helping to transform Governors Island into an extraordinary destination for all to enjoy.

Whereas: Thanks to Ronay’s visionary leadership, Governors Island is poised to become both a year-round destination and a hub of innovation, education, and creativity. With efforts underway to restore the Historic District and create new space that combines educational, non-profit, and commercial uses, the future of Governors Island has never looked brighter. None of this would be possible without Ronay’s steadfast commitment to shape the future of our city into a place where all people can rise. I applaud all she has accomplished as Chairman of the Trust for Governors Island and together with those gathered, extend my gratitude for all that she continues to do for our great city.

Now therefore, I, Bill de Blasio, Mayor of the City of New York, do hereby proclaim January 17th, 2017 in the City of New York as:

“Ronay Menschel Day”.

From the Governors Island community, thank you to Ronay!


Expanded Role for the Friends of Governors Island

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The Trust for Governors Island and the Friends of Governors Island entered into an agreement to formally align missions and goals for the future in January, 2017. The agreement creates a road map for collaboration between the two organizations to raise Governors Island’s profile, improve visitor experiences, build its base of support and streamline operations.

The Trust will continue to lead efforts to expand public access, improve parks and infrastructure, run summer arts and cultural programming and transform the Island into a year-round destination with non-profit, commercial and educational tenants. The Trust will also continue to manage all operations, capital improvements and support from the City of New York.

The agreement formalizes the role of the Friends in supporting these activities by assuming responsibility for all fundraising, volunteer coordination, new membership programs and advocacy. Originally known as Governors Island Alliance, the Friends has been a champion for Governors Island since 1995. The group was originally formed to advocate for the Island’s transformation from an abandoned military base to a treasured civic resource, leading to the deed transfer from the Federal Government to New York in 2003. Much like the Island itself, the Friends has transformed over the past decade from a small advocacy group to a mature organization that provides critical support to meet the Island’s most pressing needs.

For example, caring for the 44,000 new shrubs and trees that cover the Hills is a massive undertaking. The Friends helps meet this challenge by contributing thousands of volunteer hours each year, and by supplementing that labor with private funding for tools, equipment and staff. The Friends also sponsors a free Annual Family Fun Day over Memorial Day weekend, which brings together dozens of top tier performers and artists for a day of fun and learning. Last year, the event drew over 15,000 people from diverse neighborhoods all over the city to kick off a season of accessible, high-quality arts programming. All season long, the Friends promotes the Island’s programs and amenities through its “Island Ambassadors” — a combination of seasonal staff and volunteers who serve as visitor guides.

Going forward, the Trust and the Friends will work side-by-side toward a shared goal of making Governors Island a 365-day destination that is at the heart of New York’s cultural, recreational and educational life.

Interested in getting involved with the Friends? Learn how you can lend your voice, time and resources to ensure Governors Island remains a vibrant shared space for all.

This Valentine’s Day, give the gift of Governors Island

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Looking for the perfect Valentine's Day gift for the Governors Island-lover in your life? #GiveGI and adopt one of our Adirondack chairs right now and we'll include a miniature replica of your chair with your adoption kit. Be sure to check out all our other gift options!

By adopting part of Governors Island – in our signature red color – you are supporting the park and ensuring it remains a world class resource for all New Yorkers.

Order by February 8th for guaranteed delivery by Valentine's Day.

Governors Island Seeks Food Vendors for 2017 Season

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Calling all NYC Food Vendors! The permit process for the 2017 season is now open. The Trust seeks proposals for vendors to provide high-quality, reasonably priced and delicious food options for visitors both during weekdays and on weekends. Vendors such as mobile food trucks, coffee vendors, carts and pop up concessions can submit proposals to bring their food to Governors Island during the 2017 public access season, which will be open from May 1-October 1. The online permit application is available here. Applications are due on March 10, 2017.

“Each season, Governors Island offers visitors an array of food options and cuisines as diverse as New York City itself”, said Michael Samuelian, President and CEO of The Trust for Governors Island. “With a new park open, a record number of visitors in 2016 and a longer season in 2017, we are eager to expand our food and beverage offerings and find vendors who share our passion for the Island’s spirit of openness and diversity.”

With a record number of visitors to the Island in 2016, the Trust seeks a wide-range of food and beverage vendors representing a variety of cuisines and providing high-quality options that enhance the visitor experience. Applicants should reflect a wide-range of menu options and price points.

Two dynamic, highly trafficked and centrally located sites are available for food vendors submitting proposals through this permit process. The first, Liggett Terrace Food Court serves as a gateway to the Island’s new 40-acre park, located a short walk from both the Manhattan and Brooklyn ferry landings and directly adjacent to Colonels Row, an area with beautiful historic buildings and sprawling lawns activated with programming throughout the summer. The second site, the Kings Avenue Food Court is a tree-lined street flanked by historic buildings, also adjacent to the dynamic and bustling Colonels Row. Each location will be home to multiple vendors of different types of food.

Applicants are welcome to indicate a preference for one location or another, and may also propose food at both locations. Applicants should also indicate their preference for days of operations, with preference given to proposers who make season-long commitments. Last year, The Island welcomed nearly 600,000 visitors over the course of the season and weekday visitors doubled. The Island typically welcomes 10,000 visitors each weekend day and 3,000 visitors each weekday. More than 75% of visitors to the Island are from New York City and over 90% are from the Tri-State area.


Oyster Garden To Open on Governors Island in 2017

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Calling all Governors Island food lovers! Island Oyster, a new food and beverage concession featuring sustainably-sourced seafood in a beer garden like atmosphere, will open during the 2017 season, providing visitors to the Island with new, expanded dining options in a distinct setting with unparalleled views of the Lower Manhattan skyline and New York Harbor.

The picnic-style “Oyster Garden” set in a park-like landscape will be located near Soissons Landing. Conceived by the team behind Grand Banks, a well-loved Oyster Bar located at Hudson River Park's Pier 25, Island Oyster will offer fresh, sustainably produced seafood complemented by local summer fare, craft beer, wine, and a festive cocktail program. In partnership with the Billion Oyster Project and Earth Matter, Island Oyster will showcase oyster shell collection and recycling, furthering Governors Island as a focal point towards a sustainable future.

“Island Oyster will truly complement the spirit of Governors Island by expanding dining options for visitors and promoting the health and sustainability of New York Harbor", said Michael Samuelian, President and CEO of the Trust for Governors Island. "What better place than Governors Island to enjoy oysters along the waterfront.”

“We are truly honored that the Trust selected Island Oyster as a food and beverage partner. As a public agency, the Trust’s vision for a culturally engaging and sustainable future is truly commendable”, said Miles Pincus of Island Oyster. “Abundant with wildlife, and rich in oysters, the shores of Governors Island were once a prized hunting and fishing ground of both the Lenape tribe and New York’s early settlers. We look forward to once again establishing the island as a pilgrimage-worthy food destination.”

Stay tuned for more updates and for the official opening date!

Trust for Governors Island Seeks Proposals for Seasonal Pop Up Cafés for the 2017 Season

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The Trust for Governors Island issued today a Request for Proposals for Seasonal Pop Up Café concepts on Governors Island. The Trust is seeking high quality and creative proposals for alcohol and food service from operators with a proven track record in the food and beverage industry, excellent customer service and a keen interest in improving the visitor experience on Governors Island. Two exclusive sites in Liggett Terrace, the Island's most highly trafficked area, will be offered to vendors proposing beer garden or wine bar style concepts for the 2017 season.

As Governors Island continues to grow in popularity during the summer months, so does the need to feed our visitors! The Trust hopes to expand and diversify its offerings for food and beverage and complement existing mobile food vendors with a beer garden or seated wine bar through vendors who share the spirit of the Island. Respondents may submit proposals for the operation of one or both locations offered through this RFP, and must include food service in addition to beverage.

For the RFP and more information, please click here. Proposals are due on February 10, 2017.


OpenHouseGI Permits Now Available for Governors Island’s 2017 Season

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Expand your audience and bring your event to Governors Island in 2017! The OpenHouseGI permit process is now available for Governors Island's 2017 season. OpenHouseGI offers 150,000 square feet of indoor space in the Island’s many historic former officer’s homes and 40 acres of outdoor space free of charge to organizations or individuals that create programming that is free and open to the public during the Island’s public season.

“Arts, culture and recreation are the heart and soul of Governors Island,” said Michael Samuelian, President of The Trust for Governors Island. “OpenHouseGI gives organizations the opportunity reach new audiences and activates the Island with a wide range of programming, reflecting the diverse fabric of New York City. We are pleased to offer this opportunity and look forward to seeing great new and exciting proposals that will enhance the Island’s reputation as a destination for all New Yorkers”.

OpenHouseGI offers more than two dozen former officers’ homes in Nolan Park and Colonels Row for groups to use, totaling 150,000 square feet of space. OpenHouseGI also offers 40 acres of outdoor space for public programs. Some of the green spaces in the Island’s Historic District include the Colonels Row Festival Grounds, the 10 acre Parade Ground, Nolan Park and the South Battery. The Play Lawn and other areas in the Island’s new park are also available for programming.

When applying to OpenHouseGI, organizations can propose programming for a day, multiple days, a week or multiple weeks. Organizations can also propose season long installations and programs. The Island typically welcomes 10,000 visitors each weekend day and last year welcomed nearly 600,000 visitors over the course of the season. More than 75% of visitors to the Island are from New York City and over 90% are from the Tri-State area.

The permit application, as well as information to apply for the 2017 season, is available here. Apply today and be a part of activating the Island in 2017!

Volunteers Help Us Bloom

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Our two-year old Team Volunteering program and brand new Corporate Membership Program, spearheaded by the Friends of Governors Island, really took off this year! Vital to many of Governors Island’s horticultural and environmental initiatives, these programs engage volunteers in the hard work of keeping pace with our evolving landscapes.

This year, 16 corporate and 14 non-profit and community groups brought a total of 1,663 volunteers contributing more than 7,000 hours of stewardship for our landscapes. Our entire volunteer program grew seven-fold over the last two years to include 1,732 volunteers collectively dedicating over 8,000 hours of work to make the Island cleaner, greener, and more beautiful and welcoming than ever.

Scroll down for a photo album of some of this year's volunteer highlights!

We have ambitious long-term goals for the Island's extraordinary environment. In 2016, we opened the newest section of our award-winning park -- 10 acres of rolling hills and forest that will reach peak maturity in 2100. Designed to anticipate climate change and rising seas, the new park serves as a model for sustainable and resilient building along New York City's 600 miles of vulnerable coastline. We work hard to establish and share best-in-class urban ecological practices to match the park’s design. This endeavor would not be possible without the collective stewardship of our volunteers.

This year, volunteers tended to two park sections, which include six distinct garden and horticultural areas, and established a new 4,000 square foot pollinator garden to attract more butterflies and bees. They also:

  • cultivated soil by hand
  • removed invasive plant species in six acres of lawns and planting beds
  • tended an acre of ornamental shrubs
  • cut back and seeded native flowers and grasses
  • established 3,000 feet of gardener trails in our woodlands and meadows
  • installed 13,000 feet of gardening and safety fencing
  • installed 75 bird houses decorated by kids during our Family Fun Day
  • started construction of the “Green Zone” – our back-of-house outdoor "horticultural kitchen” complex and volunteer field base.

A priority for next year, the “Green Zone” will include plant nurseries and tree "boot camps," and soil amendment and compost tea testing areas. This project is essential to achieving our goal of being a “Zero Waste Island,” where all organic waste generated on the Island is returned to nourish our landscapes.

A special thank you to our anchor corporate members who helped us launch team volunteering on the Island: American Express, Bloomberg L.P., and Blackstone. Each of these partners sent multiple teams of employees to work on our landscapes in 2016, and also helped fund the materials, supplies and staffing we needed to make the program successful.

We are very grateful to additional corporate partners Warby Parker, Accenture, Above Average Productions, and Sharon Davis Design, as well as our non-profit teams: the Student Conservation Association, FINRA, Federal Reserve, Council on Accreditation, Break A Difference, Brooklyn Urban Garden School, the Office of the Mayor, and kindergartners from P.S. 33 for giving back so generously to the Governors Island community.

Thank you Goldman Sachs and Bloomberg L.P. for teaching our stewards-in-training from the Harbor Internship Program how to make most of their professional development.

Student Conservation Association – thank you for your leadership and for being our true partner, lending us your highly skilled and very dedicated crews.

Thank you to all of our corporate and non-profit partners for lending your hands, your enthusiasm, your grit and your care! We are looking forward to seeing you in the spring!

If you are interested in volunteering, please contact Masha Berek at masha@friendsgi.org.

​#GovIsland365: What We Learned From New Yorkers By Thinking Outside The ‘Cube’

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For years, Governors Island has been a summertime destination for the arts, relaxation, recreation and play for New Yorkers and visitors alike.

Today, the Island is moving even closer to a 24/7, 365 day-a-year future.

Mayor de Blasio’s State of the City announcement earlier this year officially ushered in a new and unprecedented chapter for the Island’s storied history: year-round activation. In thinking about the Island's next chapter, the Trust for Governors Island and NYCEDC launched #GovIsland365, a community engagement campaign to solicit feedback about how people would use the Island once it opens year-round.

The campaign kicked off on September 2 and garnered feedback from New Yorkers through two components: an interactive art installation and an online survey.

The results of the campaign are summarized below:

The Cube

An interactive chalkboard installation designed by NYC-based artist Amber Rae was on display at Soissons Landing through the month of September. Attracting thousands of visitors, the Cube elicited over 300 ideas from a wide range of people on how they would imagine working, learning, and playing on the Island as a year-round destination. Ideas reflected the diversity of Governors Island’s visitors, but could largely be categorized into four main themes:

  • Active/Outdoor Recreation
  • Cultural Enrichment
  • Professional / Academic Development
  • Reflection and relaxation

Of course, there were the occasional young doodlers who loved sharing their artistic expressions on the Cube!

Online Survey

Over 1000 people took the survey, offering insight into how they would use the Island when activated as a year-round destination.

A snapshot of survey-takers:

  • Nearly 75% were between 18 – 50 years old
  • A variety of industries were represented, with the most responses coming from those in the arts, design, entertainment, sports and media fields as well as education.

Feedback was wide-ranging, but some key insights emerged:

  • Support for year-round activation: The vast majority stated that they would visit the Island year-round

“Governors Island is an amazing oasis in NYC and should really be open year-round for everyone to enjoy”

  • Interest in professional development options: 2/3 of survey users expressed interest in having more corporate and artist retreat options. Short-term skills training was another expressed preference.
  • Open to the idea of more schools on the island: Over 75% of survey respondents were open to the idea of adding more schools to the Island, with 77% holding particular interest in “fun classes” such as cooking or arts subjects, with an emphasis on youth programming.

“Why not make Gov Island a safe place for kids to find out more about what they want to do as young adults? Why not help kids get ready for the future by thinking big?”

  • Need for more convenient transportation: Over 50% reported that limited transportation would be their main deterrent to visiting the Island. Other potential deterrents include limited food, drink, retail options and indoor space.

New Yorkers also stressed the importance of preserving and enhancing Governors Island’s open space.

“Governors Island needs 2 things: decent places to eat and decent bathroom facilities.”

The Trust for Governors Island and NYCEDC thank everyone for their feedback and active participation in the campaign! Amid all the ideas, one thing was clear: Governors Island is a treasured City resource that must remain accessible to all as an escape from the hustle and bustle.

As we advance towards shaping the Island's next chapter, feedback from the cube and survey will help inform the vision for Governors Island as a place for prosperity, one where economic opportunity comes together with innovation, education, and creativity.

“Governors Island is a treasure for the whole city, and it’s ready for its next great chapter. It’s going to be an incredible year-round magnet for culture and innovation.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio, State of #OurCity Address, February 4, 2016

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